Friday, March 22, 2019

Financial Friday | Get Paid What You’re Worth

 

Last week we talked about taking care of your Future Self by paying a percent of your paycheck to your Future Self.  So how do you save more money?

Savings is simply the gap between your income and your expenses.  If you can increase your income and reduce your expenses, then the amount of money you can save increases.  It sounds fairly simple, but there are all kinds of psychological and emotional factors at play here.  What I’m going to share with you today may sound like career advice, but it has a huge financial impact.

Girl, you need to get paid what you’re worth. 

Most companies are not there to take care of you.  They aren’t looking at your salary and saying, “Oh look at Mary, she’s working so hard.  And oh look, she’s being paid below market.  Let’s give her a 10% raise!”  Nope.  Companies pretty much look out for themselves.  You need to know what the prevailing market salary range is for your type of position, and you need to make sure you get paid what you’re worth. 

Recently, I’ve had a couple of friends talk about how hard it is for them to quantify how much to charge people for their services.  They shy away from discussing their rates.  They cringe when they think about putting a dollar value on their time.  I think as women, we need to understand our value.  Even if you don’t work outside the home, you need to understand the value you are providing for your family.  How much would it cost to hire house cleaner, cook, childcare, etc. if you were not providing these things?  It’s not free!  So as employees, we need to understand the value we are providing to our workplace, and make sure we are getting paid properly.

Out of the nine promotions/raises (outside of normal cost of living adjustments) that I’ve received in my 25 year career, only two of them were just given to me.  The other seven times, I either pursued higher paying positions within the company, or asked for a raise/promotion. 

I remember the first time I asked for a raise, I was so nervous.  I was 28 years old and had just received my MBA degree while working full time.  I didn’t get a raise after getting my master’s degree.  I looked around at what companies in the area were offering new MBA grads without work experience and discovered that they were being hired at a higher starting salary than what I was making.  And not only did I have an MBA, I had five years of work experience!  So I wrote up a memo to my manager at the time, asking for a specific amount of salary, backed up with my data.  I nervously sent the email right before I left the office the night before.  The next morning I was called into my manager’s office and he was angry.  He asked me, “Are you intereviewing elsewhere?  Do you have another job offer?”  I said, “No, I just wanted to ask for a raise because new MBA hires are being hired in at a higher salary than what I’m making.”  He immediately softened and looked relieved.  You know why?  He thought I had another job offer and that he was going to lose me.  I was valuable.  So we talked more about the data, and he said he would talk to HR about it.  A few days later, I got my raise.  It was really hard to put myself out there, basically saying that I deserved to get paid what the position is worth.  But I knew that I would not be happy working there if I didn’t do it. 

After that first time, each time got a little easier.  I always researched first into what the market salary data showed for my type of position.  During the year, I would document all my accomplishments so that I had quantifiable evidence of performing at the next level.  I’ve also learned the sad fact that most of the time in the corporate world, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.  Yes, it’s possible they can say no.  But then you know where you stood and can pursue other opportunities if that’s what you choose. 

I’ve had friends say, ‘Yea, but I don’t want to make so much money that I stand out when they’re looking for people to lay off.”  This is actually quite a prevalent sentiment.  I have two answers for that.  First, you have to make yourself so valuable that nobody would think that your salary is not worth it.  One of the best career advice that I’ve ever received from a manager is “Always add-value to the process”.  She said, “When you send me a spreadsheet, don’t just send it and make me look at the numbers.  A monkey can do that.  Tell me the main things I need to know to make a decision based on the data, and even give me your opinion of the best two or three decisions.”  VPs and executives don’t have time to look at numbers and come to conclusions themselves.  I always took it upon myself to tell them what the data actually MEANS, what decision they need to make, and what my suggestion would be.  My job was not to be a spreadsheet jockey, my job was to be a major financial partner to the decision makers of the company.  Once the decision makers of the company know your value to them, they won’t hesitate to pay you what you’re worth.  Really.
Secondly, if you’ve been paid higher salaries the last few years and become laid off, so what?  It’s better than having been paid below market for all those years.  You have the money in the bank now.  Go find youself another job where they value your contributions.  It sounds flippant, but it’s true.  Don’t let the fear of making more money stand in the way. 

So let’s look at what the difference is between just getting maybe four promotions/raises in your 25 year career versus nine, the five additional promotions being that you received them because you asked for them.


That’s a 25 year lifetime earnings difference of almost $220k that you can take to the bank!  That’s not even including interest.  If you invested the difference in the earnings, you would have much more than $220k more.


Considering that earnings (just like investing) is not linear and is compounding.  The more you can earn early on in your career, the higher your lifetime earnings will be.  Because every single raise you get is based on your previous salary.  So when you get that 10% raise, the next year your 3% cost of living adjustment is based on your salary including the extra 10% you got last year.  So if you make $100k (just to make the math simple) and you asked for a 10% raise, you make $110k.  Then next year your 3% adjustment equals $3,300 ($110,000 x 3%) instead of $3,000 ($100,000 x 3%) than if you hadn’t asked for the 10% raise.  This compounding is what makes your lifetime earnings so much more if you get nine raises/promotions instead of four!

Now we’ve covered the increasing your earnings part of the savings equation.  Yes, there are many other ways to make more money, including side hustles, freelancing, turning a hobby into money, etc.  But to me, the most impactful way to make more money is to actually concentrate on your career, make yourself valuable, and asking for more pay. 
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Monday, March 18, 2019

Sure Feels Like Spring Now!


Todd and I went to the beach for a walk yesterday, because it was sunny and 72 degrees.  We haven’t hit the 70’s in two months, which is quite unusual for San Diego.  It was simply beautiful there!  And lots of other locals had the same idea and headed to the beach too.





This past week, my birthday celebration continued for a little bit.  On Monday on my actual birthday, I spent the day making things, which makes me the happiest!  I made a bunch of new products for my Pacifica Grace Studio’s March product release this past Friday.



If you’re interested in purchasing something, you can receive 10% off by signing up for my newsletter.  I will push the latest newsletter with the 10% subscriber discount code out to you when you subscribe.  The code is good through Thursday 3/21.

On Tuesday night Todd and I went to see the Captain Marvel movie at AMC.  Our local AMC has reserved reclining (heated!) seats now.  They also serve real food too!  And every Tuesday is $5 tickets, even for new release movies.  Such a great deal!  We enjoyed the movie and we’re now excited for Avengers: End Game to come out in April!

Todd surprised me with a new color laser printer for my birthday.  I had wanted one for my business so that my labels would look extra nice.  My colored inkjet was sort of on its last legs and being temperamental.  I used my new color laser printer for my product labels last week and they look AWESOME!  I was very excited.  And so grateful for a supportive husband.

On Saturday we went to lunch at Taste of Hunan with Todd’s work friends Emily and Sean.  We forgot to take photos of our food and of each other.  Whenever that happens I tell Todd, “It’s like it never happened!”  I hate photo regrets.  We ate a bunch of authentic Chinese dishes in family style, meaning sharing all the dishes.  It’s the best way so everyone can try everything!  Loved the meal.  I had never met Emily or Sean before.  They are in their 20’s.  At one point in the conversation, we were talking about something and I said, "Yea, it's like the Soup Nazi!" :: blank stares :: I continued, "You know, from Seinfeld". :: more blank stares :: Oh my, I am old.

Yesterday we went to lunch at Mendocino Farms, because it was a warm day and we felt like eating salads.  We LOVE their Impossible Salad there.


The funny thing about that is, the first time we had it, we didn’t even realize that it’s not real meat and the entire salad is vegan.  It’s THAT good!


Todd had a lunch last week with some work friends.


He also got a haircut.  Every time he gets a haircut, we get to eat our favorite Indian food Punjabi Tandoor for dinner, because it’s near haircut place and Todd brings the food home.  Needless to say, I ate well for my birthday week, LOL.

This morning, my sweet friend Meera treated me to a belated birthday breakfast at Original Pancake House.  She brought me a bouquet of beautiful flowers, a card, and some chocolate!  I’m beyond blessed by her friendship.  And every time we talk, she says something about me that makes me feel special and loved.  Something that makes me take heart and say, “She gets me.  She understands me.”  That right there is a special friend!



(BTW, I probably need to up my eyebrow game?  It looks like I have none!

Some Noodle cuteness for this week!






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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Financial Friday | Your Future Self


I am starting a new blog series called Financial Friday, where I will write about various personal finance topics.  It won’t be every single Friday, but it will be regular.  I will try to explain personal finance in plain language with some everyday examples so that it’s easier to understand.  I think personal finance is a topic that everyone should learn, yet nobody teaches you.  I think this should be part of the high school curriculum because I think it’s vitally important to start financial knowledge when you are young. 

Why would I be qualified to talk about financial topics?  First of all, I am really speaking from my personal experience, which is unique to me.  But also, I have a background where I have an accounting degree, an MBA with a finance concentration, and have worked in corporate finance for 25 years.  I resigned from my full-time job last year because I’ve managed our money well for 25 years.  I’ve always believed that the world would be a better place if we knew more about money and how to manage it.  It would alleviate a lot of stress & uncertainty for a lot of people.  I want to talk about financial topics in an accessible way so that it’s not scary or intimidating, but helpful and interesting.

Today we’ll begin lightly with talking about your Future Self. 

For me, I’m a person who plans ahead.  So even early on in my adult life, in my 20’s, I became keenly aware that I need to invest in my Future Self.  What does that even mean?  It means that when I was in my 20’s, I knew that at some point in my life, possibly in my 60’s, but hopefully in my 50’s, I would be able to retire from full-time employment.  I also am really good at imagining worst case scenarios (which is both a blessing and a curse).  So I thought to myself back then… what if I lost my job and couldn’t find another job for a while?  What if I lost my job in my 50’s and couldn’t find another job?  People always assume they can work when they’re older, as long as they wanted to, in order to have money and live.  But what would be a worst case scenario for that?  You could end up old, sick, disabled, unable to work, and poor.  You may be planning to work until you’re old, but circumstances may change and you could NOT be able to work.  Then what?  My fear for my Future Self was being old, sick, and poor and living on the streets.

So you say, “Yea, but isn’t that what social security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. is for?”  And I’m here to say, I have NEVER relied on getting social security in my financial planning.  Even in my 20’s I knew that social security was close to running out of funds and it was possible that I would never see a penny that I put into it.  Or they could keeping upping the age of eligibility for people to receive social security in order to fund it.  OR they could put income requirements in such that if you made over a certain amount of money during your working life, then you get LESS social security.  All of these scenarios are possible when social security is so underfunded!  So IF I get social security payouts when I reach 67 years old?  It would just be a bonus.  And if all you have is social security checks when you reach old age, that means you are on a fixed income without much inflationary adjustments.  Which can be very difficult if your rent goes up or if gas and food goes up by a lot each year.  I didn’t want to rely on the fact that the government would have money to give back to me when I became old, so I never relied on it when I planned for my Future Self.

So how do you take care of your Future Self with your Current Self?  By valuing your Future Self just as much as your Current Self.  Part of each and every one of your paycheck needs to go to paying your Future Self.  And it needs to be automatic.  If it’s not automatic, then you won’t do it.  If it’s automatic, you’ll never see it, and you won’t be tempted to spend it.  And the money to your Future Self needs to go to an account where you can’t really touch it, such as your company’s 401k, a self-directed retirement account such as an IRA (Individual Retirement Account), or another investment account that’s separate from your bank so that it’s not easy for you to get the money out.  Set up the automatic deduction from your paycheck to these places where your Future Self will be happy to get the money.  Your Future Self will really appreciate the sacrifices that your Current Self is making.  Your Future Self will enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about money in their older age.  Money doesn’t really buy happiness, but it does buy freedom.  I truly believe that.  I am an example of that.

More topics and more specific financial examples to come in future installments of Financial Friday!  I hope I didn’t scare you, but rather inspired you to invest into your Future Self.  It’s SO important.
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Monday, March 11, 2019

Forty Nine Memories

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Today is my birthday!  I am forty nine!

Todd and I celebrated my birthday yesterday, since he had to work today.  We went to lunch at Bluewater Boathouse Grill at Coronado, where I had the ciopinno.  Then we had ice cream at Moo Time Creamery, followed by book browsing at the independent book store Bay Books.  It was perfect!

In honor of my birthday and 49 trips around the sun, I made a list of 49 random memories, in no particular order!

  1. When I was three, my parents went out and the babysitter let me play with water in the bathroom.  I got water EVERYWHERE!
  2. I had a yellow canary as my first pet.
  3. I learned to ride a bike when I was seven.  I LOVED my blue glitter banana seat bike!  I was sad when we moved to the US in 1979 and couldn’t bring my bike with us.
  4. My paternal grandparents were farmers and lived in the countryside in Taiwan.  They had chickens everywhere, including inside the house.  And they pooped everywhere, including inside the house.
  5. One time when I was 6 or 7, there was a big earthquake in Taiwan.  Our apartment was shaking and I didn’t know what was going on.  My mom threw herself over me and my little sister.  I asked her what happened and she said there was an earthquake.  The love and protection of a mom!
  6. Eighth grade school dances where Journey and Spandau Ballet ballads ruled.
  7. Tenth grade social dance during PE.  Ugh.
  8. Meeting Todd for the first time on our dorm floor.  He was new.  I was an older sophomore!  We lived in the geek dorm Taylor Tower at Ohio State.  We owe the Ohio State computer for putting us on the same floor.  I don’t think we would have met otherwise, since he was in Engineering and I was in Arts & Sciences and Business.
  9. The first time I realized my parents were humans with faults and frailties. 
  10. The $20 bill that my dad gave me when I was a junior in college.  I was going to graduate in three years with a Psychologoy degree and was going to pursue grad school and Psychology.  But a comment by the Psych professor that I was doing research for (work study) led me to quit that work study job and re-consider going into Psychology.  I was worried about finding another work study job, I really needed the money.  I had scholarships and grants, but it was not enough.  My dad stopped by my apartment and gave me a $20 bill and consoled me and told me it was going to be alright.  And it was.  The event changed the direction of my life forever.  I never spent the $20 bill.  I still have it in an envelope.
  11. Moving to San Diego in December of 1999.  Getting into our rental car at the airport with our two cats and the first song that came on the radio was “Bright Sunshiny Day” with the lyrics, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone”. 
  12. Finding out my mom had cancer.
  13. Being there when my mom passed away.
  14. Meeting Todd’s family for the first time.  His parents were younger than I am now!  And his sister was only 11 years old at the time, LOL.
  15. Making the 8th grade cheerleading squad in middle school.
  16. Going to the library for the first time in the US, and checking out books with lots of words I couldn’t read. 
  17. The first day of school in 4th grade in a new country.  I didn’t speak English and it was very scary.  But I had to put up a brave face for my younger sister, who was in kindergarten.  They came to find me in my classroom because she wouldn’t stop crying.  She cried and asked me, “Why don’t they speak Chinese here?”
  18. Todd playing in rock bands and touring in Austin, TX.
  19. Todd making me a silkscreen sweatshirt as a gift.  It was much harder back then.  You had to draw on the screen and cut it out with an exacto knife.  No such thing as an electric cutter back then!
  20. When I got my first job offer out of college.  I still have the offer letter.  The company has been spun off twice, but I ended up working with the same company for 25 years.
  21. The first time I had pizza in the US.  I thought it was so gross!
  22. Our 10 year anniversary party.  We rented a boat for 30 people and had dinner catered on the boat.  Cruised around San Diego Bay and got to see the sunset.  Best party ever.
  23. The day I started talking to my friend Peppermint on the internet and we became fast friends.
  24. Going to San Diego Comic Con and getting squished on the trolley and in the halls, everywhere.  It was so crowded!
  25. Running into Geena Davis while walking around in La Jolla.
  26. All the times I worked as an extra on the TV show Veronica Mars.  Making television is very tedious and takes forever, filming the same scenes over and over again.
  27. Building our first house in Miamisburg, Ohio.
  28. Buying our first house in San Diego, which was up the hill from our current house.  Oh the sticker shock!
  29. Seeing our current house for the first time during open house and falling in love with it.  We immediately went home and I calculated all kinds of numbers to see if it would work.  That was 18 years ago.  It worked out.
  30. Discovering the internet for the first time, in 1995.
  31. Going to the San Diego Charger Girls tryout in 2004 and trying to follow the choreography to Britney Spears’ “You Drive Me Crazy”. 
  32. Our first home fellowship church group of young married couples in Dayton.
  33. Todd playing trumpet in the orchestra and me singing in the 80 person choir at our church in Dayton.  I miss a church with a big choir and full orchestra.  It was so fun.
  34. Adopting our first two cats, Pete and Pepe, in 1995, a month after we moved into our newly built house.
  35. My college pet, a hamster named Buddy.
  36. Being a candy striper at John Muir Memorial Hospital during 9th grade.  My day was Mondays and I’d watch Monday Night Football with the patients while feeding them or chatting with them.
  37. Discovering digital cameras for the first time!  What a life-changer!
  38. My girls trips with my friend Sally to Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico.
  39. Going to Maui for our honeymoon and having to be in five airports to get there (Columbus, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Maui). 
  40. Loving Hawaii because people looked like me, and couples looked like me and Todd.  In Ohio we still got stared at occasionally. 
  41. My parents taking care of teenage kids every Saturday because we had youth group at our house.  My mom worked tirelessly cooking for everyone.  It was like a second home for some of those kids.  My dad was a church pastor and the youth group impacted the kids so much that two of my friends became pastors as well.
  42. My dad having an ulcer and had to go to the same hospital that I volunteered at.  It was sad seeing him in the hospital bed. 
  43. Growing up poor and really not KNOWING it until I was an adult.  We had everything we needed.
  44. Going to Jalapa, Mexico to visit my sister while she was on a one-year stint there working with college kids. 
  45. My sister living with us for a year before getting married.  Our cat Pepe used to sleep with her every night, she was his favorite.
  46. The last day at my 25 year job.
  47. The first day I opened my Etsy store.
  48. Going to Arizona for baseball Spring Training with our good friends AJ & Meera.
  49. Snorkeling for the first time and seeing colorful fish and other undersea creatures.
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Confessions of a Midlife Housewife Newbie

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As you all know, I was never a homemaker type of woman. I worked full time at a really taxing (no pun intended) corporate finance job for 25 years. I was telling a good friend last month that I'm learning how to do things around the house and it's actually really satisfying. In the last six months, I've learned to cook new things, made meals for entire weeks (OMG!!), adhered to scheduled laundry days, and learned general housekeeping skills. It may seem antiquated or mundane to some people, but it's given me life skills and satisfaction. It's much different than my corporate job, but satisfying in this stage of my life. I think the takeaway lesson is that we don't have to be one thing in our life. You can be different things at different times, or multiple things all the time. It's just important to grow, learn, and be satisfied, whatever you do.

Also, I've learned to never go to the grocery store next to the elementary school at 2:55pm.

Todd and I have always split up household tasks in the 24 years that we’ve been married.  However, I’ll be the first to admit that he did more than me.  He cooked dinners for most of our married life.  It started because when we were first married, I was in a long-hours stressful job and he wasn’t.  Then I was working full time and going to graduate school at night to get my MBA.  He got better and better at cooking, so he just kept doing it.  In the last few years, I’ve learned to cook quite a few things myself.  TV cooking shows and Pinterest has helped with that.  In 2015 I cooked a new recipe every week for 6-7 months.  You can find all the “What I Cooked” posts on my blog here.  You can also see them all in one place on my “Stuff I Cooked” Pinterest board! 

More recently, Todd has been really busy at work with his project going live, so I’ve been trying to do more cooking.  The first picture in this post was a Chili Glazed Tofu dish that I made last week.  It always takes me way longer to cook anything than I think it does.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and just kind of winged it.  It turned out rather well. 

One of my favorite ways to cook dinner is in the Instant Pot, or a pressure cooker.  I’ve made this Tex Mex Chili Mac a few times and it’s a winner.  It’s from the America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker cookbook.  But this recipe seems similar. 

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I’ve also made various versions of chicken & dumplings, because it’s one of my favorite things to eat.  I think this version is from The Kitchen.

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Todd and I split up the various house-cleaning duties.  I’ve taken over laundry the last two years, mainly because I’ve been very particular about the way my clothes are folded, LOL.  I adopted the Marie Kondo style of clothes-folding so that I could put my clothes away vertically into my drawers.  That involves different folding and folding into smaller but sturdier structure.  I really couldn’t expect Todd to do that, so I took over the laundry. 

For the 24 years when we both worked outside the home, we did all the laundry and cleaning on the weekends.  Now I can do a lot of chores and errands during the weekdays, which frees up our weekend time together for more fun.  That was actually one of the goals we had as a couple when we decided that I would resign from my job, and we’ve been able to achieve that.

I guess what I would consider a very important job that has been my domain ever since we’ve been married is money management.  I have been managing our money and paying bills since the beginning.  It’s because that’s where my expertise was.  Accounting and finance was my jam.  That fact actually brings me to my current housewifeing situation… I guess I’ve managed our money well enough over the years, that I could resign from my job and stay home now.  I managed all our savings, investments, 401k, mutual funds, asset allocation, insurance, mortgage, refinancing, other loans, etc. for 24 years.  Sometimes I wonder if Todd even knows how much money we have, or where our accounts are.  Oh I kid.  He knows.  We cross-train each other on our tasks from time to time, just in case.

So that’s kind of where I’m at in the role of housewife the last six months.  I thought by now I’d be itching to go find a part-time job in finance again.  But no.  Between my business Pacifica Grace Studio and running our house, I’m quite busy and fulfilled!

I’ve been thinking of blogging more about personal finance topics, since that’s an area where I have a lot of knowledge that I could share.  What do you think?  Is it something you would be interested in reading here at listgirl.com? 

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Monday, March 4, 2019

Birthday Month + Being Thankful

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Happy March!  March is my birthday month and it’s exciting and a little terrifying at the same time, at my age!  Of course I try to remain positive about aging, but the train of time doesn’t stop and keeps on rolling.  In honor of my birthday month, I made an appointment for my annual wellness check with my doctor.  I had been putting it off since December… for stupid reasons.  One of them being that I probably put on a few pounds since my wellness visit in December 2017.  That time my doctor did mention that I’ve put on a few pounds the last three years.  I had promised myself in my head that I would eat better and exercise more, neither of which happened in the last six months.  So I guess I felt a little bit ashamed and disappointed in myself.  But I realized that’s not a good reason to not get my annual wellness exam, so here we are.

Because of this being my birthday month and the upcoming visit to the doctor later this month, I thought it would be a good month to kick off a regular exercise plan again.  Starting today I’m doing the six-week Jessica Smith Walk Strong DVD series again. 

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I did this program twice during my “Summatical” in 2017 and really loved it.  I talked about it in-depth here on my blog.  I love Jessica Smith’s approachable and can-do encouraging style.  And for the most part the DVD series isn’t too difficult, although some days are more challenging than others.  I like how well-rounded it is, with a mix of cardio, strength, HIIT, stretching, etc.

I’m also going to try to fit in as much yoga as I can.  Yoga with Adriene has a calendar of yoga videos up for March.

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And you can find her March playlist on YouTube here

As I get older, I realized that when I think of things I’m thankful for, there are more and more things that I’m thankful for because I DON’T have them.  Things like health issues, health issues of loved ones, big heavy financial burdens, career stress and worries, etc.  It’s kind of weird to be thankful for things you don’t have, but because I have experienced some heartbreak and stressful things in the past, I know full well that they could happen again.  (Those things being my mom’s illness and eventual passing, and Todd having a mysterious cerebral spinal fluid leak that kept him bedridden for two months.)  Over the two years that these two things happened, I thought I made it through rather unscathed until three months after my mom passed away.  One day in May 2007, I had a sudden anxiety attack while running on the treadmill.  I was not particularly stressed or anything, so it came on suddenly and I was so surprised.  My body just decided it held up long enough under duress, and it broke.  I went on medication for a year to control the anxiety attacks.  Those things happen.  And I’m fully aware they could happen again.  Therefore I’m always thankful for the calm and boring days.

I love the first photo in this blog post, as well as this one.  Noodle “helping” Todd with the puzzle, ha ha.  Too cute!

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Todd has been really busy this past week at work.  He worked long hours and also the entire weekend.  His months’ long project at work went live as of 6pm last night.  He is on call for “hypercare” for any urgent issues that come up with the new system going live.  On early Sunday morning he got called at 3am and got up and worked from 3-5am.  He’s so excited that the project has finally gone live though.  This is the project that kicked off when he went to India last year

Fun things this past week:

On Wednesday night we went to check out a newly opened Taiwanese shaved ice dessert place that opened in San Diego called Meet Fresh

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This is the kind of street dessert that I ate in Taiwan as a kid.  Grass jelly, taro balls, shaved ice with syrup or milk, red beans, etc.  (I lived in Taiwan until I was nine, when we moved to the USA.)  It really brings back the childhood dessert memories!

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On Thursday I went to lunch at Rice Chicken to check out their Korean fried chicken.  It’s brand-new and soft opening for them.  I had the regular fried chicken with garlic chili dip.  I thought it was decent but not as good as Furaido Chicken inside the Atlas Market.

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And a funny thing happened later that evening.  I was checking out the Instastory of a local account that I follow, and he had gone to Rice Chicken that same afternoon for lunch.  I thought, oh, what a coincidence!  Then I looked closely and look who is sitting there on the left side of his photo?  It’s ME!!!

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I thought that was hilarious and messaged his account.  Imagine you’re just perusing things on Instagram and find yourself in someone else’s Instastory, LOL!

Todd had to work on Saturday, but we met up for lunch at Tofu House.  It was a rainy day and we love going to Tofu House on rainy or cold days for some reason.  It was delicious, as usual.

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Yesterday I made a cream clay cleansing balm, just for fun.  It has coconut oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil, emulsifying wax, stearic acid, vitamin E, kaolin clay, vanilla FO, and valencia orange EO. When it set up it has a balm texture. Smells like a coconut orange creamsicle. It’s a solid oil facial cleanser. The emulsifying wax allows the oils to rinse cleanly off the skin.  I tried it last night and also made Todd use it.  I really like it!  And I LOVE the smell.  I put this up on Facebook yesterday for an edition of “Food or Skincare?”, because a lot of bath & body or skincare things I make look like creamy food, LOL.

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I’ve gone done the rabbit hole of reading about alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, fruit acid, lactic acid), niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, hydrolyzed silk proteins, etc.  It’s really fun and I’m learning a lot!

That’s all for today!  If you haven’t noticed, I am blogging on Mondays and Thursdays now.  It is a good amount of blogging to aim for these days, and I’ve got them set up on my Google calendar.  Come back Thursday for my thoughts on being a newbie first-time housewife!

And just because Noodle looks so cute in this photo.  He got tuckered out after “helping” Todd with the puzzle.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

On Being An Obsessive Enthusiast

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Todd and I recently had a great discussion about something that we have in common with each other:  being obsessive enthusiasts of things / ideas / topics / subjects that we’re interested to learn more about.  And when I say learn more about… I mean spending a lot of time researching into the minute details of said subject.  His main interests involve science, technology, math, and music.  Mine are more varied and often involves DIY-ing something. 

I’ve always loved crafting and DIY since I was a little kid.  In fact you probably started following my blog for my scrapbooking, cardmaking, and papercrafting posts.  That has always been a big love for me, and while it is currently on the back burner, it doesn’t mean it can’t make a comeback someday.  But I have many many interests and actually researching into those interests is a big hobby of mine, LOL.  I absolutely LOVE being obsessive about something new-to-me and learning all I can about it!  My brain thrives on it and I love the stimulation it provides me.  I am definitely not someone that likes to have information fed or given to me.  I like to think through things myself, and my intensely curious mind will come up with lots of new questions that need to be answered.  I enjoy the PROCESS of learning and thinking, just as much as the end result of whatever it is that I make as a result of my research.

That’s why I get so annoyed at the comments section of DIY blogs.  Apparently my love of learning and thinking doesn’t apply to everyone.  I see so many intellectually lazy people who don’t want to think or experiment for themselves.  They will ask questions such as “what would the recipe for this be if I want to make 8 oz?”  I see this on DIY skincare and cosmetics blogs and YouTube a LOT.  And I applaud the blogger for anwering it as such:  “the formula is for 2 oz of face cream, so doing simple math can scale the recipe to 8 oz.”  :: slow clap ::  Do these people not scale recipes for food too??  When I read a recipe for making a meal, I make sure to see how many servings it is for.  And if it’s not the amount of servings I want to make, then I scale it to the amount I want to make.  For DIY things, I’ve created spreadsheets such that I can put the original formulation in, calculate the percentages used for each ingredient, then put in the total amount I want to make, and my spreadsheet will calculate the new amounts for each ingredient.  It’s a simple concept!  To me, the joy is in the process, not just in the end product.  I don’t want someone else to tell me EXACTLY how to do it.

Sorry about the soapbox.  I guess what I’m trying to convey is that I really get a lot of enjoyment out of learning, processing, and thinking.  I’ve told Todd before that if I hadn’t become an accountant & financial analyst, I probably would have been in science.  I actually have a bachelor of science degree in Psychology and did research for a professor in college.  I love to be methodical in research and in examining what would happen in different scenarios. 

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An example of this is making lip balm with the perfect (to me) consistency.  I knew I wanted to use coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil, and beeswax.  But what percentages of each would yeild the best consistency?  What would make the lip balm not too hard, not too soft, emollient yet stays on your lips and doesn’t slip off?  After doing research, I knew that beeswax provides the structure of the lip balm, and what the min and max percent usage should be to make an extremely soft or extremely hard lip balm.  So I methodically created several formulations of different beeswax to oil formulations and tried them out to come up with my ideal lip balm consistency.  I did the same thing with the lavender coconut lime body butter bar.  My first try the consistency was too soft, I adjusted the percentage of oil vs wax, and came up with a much better consistency.  I don’t want to take someone’s word for a formulation… I want to test everything myself!

So what happens when you take different percentages of these main ingredients

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and mix them together with scent and micas, and then put them into water?  How does the skin feel?  How strong or weak is the scent?  How well does it bubble/foam?  How does the color mix look together in water?

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And after some experimentation and I was satisfied, then this formulation became the Unicorns & Rainbows Fizzy Bath Parfait.

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Honestly, the reading, thinking, formulating, and testing part of this is the BEST part.  And the making.  I really do enjoy the process of coming up with something beautiful, useful, and fun.  I guess I’m a proud obessive enthusiast! 

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Monday, February 25, 2019

The Sky is Always the Bluest After The Rain

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We’ve had a LOT of rain the last few weeks in San Diego.  Last week we even had hail.  There’s been tons of snow in the mountains near us, only an hour away.  But on Saturday Todd & I went for a walk at the coast and it was the clearest as it gets in San Diego, which is very clear and very blue!

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It always makes me feel so great when we walk by the ocean.  It makes me feel super grateful to live here.

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On the making front this week, I made a whipped shea butter body butter, just for experimenting with ingredients and formulation.  It’s made with shea butter, safflower oil, isopropyl myristate (to cut the oily feel and make it feel smooth), vitamin E oil, and lemon, orange, and grapefruit essential oils (but not at the amount that would cause photosensitivity).  It feels and smells great. 

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I also made 25 candles for a custom label order.  I’ve never made 25 candles at once before, so I timed myself every step of the way so I could see how efficient I could be, ha ha.  This was the “prep all the glass jars and wick them” stage.

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This was 2.5 hours later, after pouring all the candles.  They’re setting/curing.  They are scented in Sea Salt & Orchid and smell REALLY good!

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While I worked on this candle order, I discovered the “Songs To Sing in the Shower” playlist on Spotify.  It is soooo good!  I literally danced my way through the candlemaking, LOL.  So joyous!

My nephew Andrew has a channel on YouTube called “Rogue Films”.  He had a video he made go viral last week and he texted us to tell us.  (It has over half a million views now!) So Todd and Noodle watched the video together.  I guess it became some sort of meme?  I have no idea what the kids like these days!

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Speaking of Noodle, he is loving the sunshine that has returned to San Diego.

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Sideways sleeping on his infinity bed.

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Todd got to play Mozart and Mahler classical pieces with his musician friends on Saturday.  They get together from time to time to play together, just for fun.  I went and recorded a bunch of videos for him.

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Every time I hear him play, I’m in awe of his talent, but more so his hard work.  He practices piano a lot, almost daily, after dinner.  He also plays trumpet in a brass group at work during lunch on Mondays.  They are going to play songs from “The Greatest Showman”.  Which, by the way, we watched for the 2nd time on Saturday night.  It’s even better the second time around.  So now I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all day on Spotify today.

Todd continued to celebrate his birthday this weekend, because several of his “free birthday food” coupons were expiring.  On Friday night we went to Burger Lounge so he could get his free milk shake.

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Then on Sunday we went to brunch at Miguel’s Cocina so he could use his $10 off $30 birthday coupon.  They also gave him a free birthday mud pie and sang to him!

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I had the carne asada benedict and it was delicious.  But what I really go to Miguel’s for is their cheese queso dip with chips, LOL.

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I’ve been reading through Marie Rayma’s book “Make It Up”.  It is sooooo awesome!  I’m excited to try some of the formulas for DIY foundation, blush, lipstick, eyeshadows, etc.  The idea that I can custom make cosmetics for myself that matches my skin tone exactly, and also make colored cosmetics to my liking, is very exciting to me!  Especially since cosmetics is a category of products that’s marked WAAAAY up in retail sales, to pay for the marketing.  I have a feeling that fairly soon, I’m going to end up with lots of little jars of DIY makeup.  So fun!

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I have already talked about Atlas Market in a recent blog post, but I went there today and got our whole week’s produce for $8.74! 

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I got:

3.3 LBS of beets = $1.09
2.82 LBS of papaya = $2.79
3.87 LBS of naval oranges = $0.77
1.75 LBS of fuji apples = $1.21
1.9 LBS of green beans = $0.94
2 jalapeno peppers = $0.32
4 tomatillos = $0.48
Bag of bok choy = $0.85
2 bunches of cilantro = $0.29

Total $8.74

I think I mis-weighed some items, because it looks like I got way more than I needed.  I think the scales in the store may have been in kilograms, LOL.  But anyway, that means I could have only paid like $6 for all the produce that I needed.  That’s just incredible!  Seriously when I wheel the cart out of this place, I'm so giddy like I just stole some food! Local friends, you absolutely NEED to go to Atlas Market for produce and fruits!  It's an international market with a food hall, with emphasis on Korean and Persian food. Tons of other Asian and Middle Eastern food. They make announcements in English, Persian, Korean, and Chinese, LOL. In the food hall they have Korean fried chicken, which is soooooo good. And there's a Persian Bakery too. Basically I want to live there!

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